05/09/2023 12:48 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 (Bernama) -- The presence of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah in Sabah and Sarawak for the ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ programme will help bridge the gap and differences between the people of West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Persatuan Anak Borneo Semenanjung vice chairman Serit Banyan said the arrival of the Royal couple to Sabah and Sarawak would also help dispel the perception that the two states have always been discriminated despite becoming a part of Malaysia since Sept 16, 1963.

“The decision by the Royal couple to join the programme proves that we are all in one big family under one country and under one leadership. Therefore, I feel this initiative can overcome the differences and perception that the people of Sabah and Sarawak are different from people in the mainland. 

“This will certainly improve National integration and eliminate the disparity because nobody will be ignored and left behind in the process of nation building.

“These unity will help build a progressive nation,” he said when appearing as a guest on Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme to discuss on the topic ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo: Semai Tekad Perpaduan’ that was broadcast tonight.

The King and Queen were greeted by an overwhelming presence of people, including those living in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak because the first-ever tour by a head of state was a golden opportunity for the people of both states to meet the royal couple from close range and in person.

The "Kembara Kenali Borneo" from Sept 3 to 13, starting in Tawau, Sabah and ending in Telok Melano, Sematan, Sarawak, will record a historic moment and unique experience of a host of programmes rich in customs, culture and tribal handicrafts scheduled with the people, according to the Royal couple’s wishes.

The "Kembara Kenali Borneo" expedition will span 2,154 kilometres through the Pan Borneo Highway which connects Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

In addition to Tawau (where the programme started), the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong are scheduled to stopover in Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Telupid, Ranau, Kundasang, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Sipitang, Sabah and Lawas in Sarawak from Sept 3 to 7 before visiting Brunei for three days.

The entourage will then resume from Miri on Sept 9 and participate in drumming and sports activities and be feted to local feasts at Pantai Bungai Bekenu, before moving on to Bintulu, Tatau, Sibu, Sri Aman, Kuching and reaching the final destination at Telok Melano, Sematan Sarawak.

“Due to the distance and demography between West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak which is divided by the South China Sea, most of the activities organised for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong are based in the peninsula but this time around Al-Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah will come in person to meet and greet the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

“This is the kind of leadership and head of state that every populace of a nation dreams of, a King who steps out of the Royalty-embraced environment and protocol to meet the people. The King and Queen have always been caring and concerned with the welfare of the people,” he said.  

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Sabah’s Senior Professor for Political Economy, Assoc Prof Dr Firdausi Suffian said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will certainly take note of the difficulties faced by the people in both states, including aspects like poverty, basic infrastructure and welfare of the people throughout the journey.

“All districts that the Royal entourage would be passing through during the ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ are districts with a high poverty rate and unemployment as well as lacked basic facilities and infrastructure like good roads.

“I believe Al-Sultan Abdullah will take note so that the state government can take the necessary action, especially under the 12th Malaysia Plan or 2024 Budget,” he said.


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